New demonstrations took place on Friday night in Lebanon against the wait of the public authorities and see against the country’s economic decline. This is despite the fact that the authorities have promised to inject dollars into the market in an attempt to stop the unrestrained depreciation of the national currency.
Demonstration anger has not subsided in Lebanon: New protest rallies took place on Friday evening, June 12, against the government’s wait-and-see approach to the country’s economic decline.
In Tripoli, the big city in the north, the army on the main square scattered hundreds of protesters shouting “revolution, revolution” and triggering conflicts, according to an AFP correspondent on site. Protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at soldiers and damaged facades of shops and banks. The soldiers were avenged with tear gas.
“I just want a job to live (…) We don’t believe in the measures being taken by the government,” said Waël, 17. In central Beirut, dozens of youths also set fire to business, says an AFP correspondent. They were scattered with tear gas.
“We in Dahiyeh are hungry (…) We are no longer able to buy bread,” said Mehanna, 25, who lives in a Hezbollah fortress in southern Beirut.
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The gradual collapse of the Lebanese pound was accompanied by an explosion of inflation, not to mention corporate closures and mass redundancies, a crisis compounded by the containment measures adopted over two months against Covid-19.
Historical dollar exchange rate for the Lebanese Pound
The economic stagnation, which led to a shortage of dollars – the currency commonly used in Lebanon – was one of the catalysts for an unprecedented uprising released in October 2019 to condemn a political class almost unchanged for decades, accused of corruption and incompetence.
By night Thursday through Friday, Lebanese had already taken to the streets. In their view: the central bank governor, Riad Salamé, criticized his inability to stop amortization. But also the government of Hassan Diab.
During an “urgent meeting” in the government, President Michel Aoun announced the establishment of a mechanism to ensure “injection of dollars into the market by the Lebanese bank”, believing that this “should enable the rate to gradually decline,” according to his services.
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Parliament chief Nabih Berri talked about measures taken to get the exchange rate below £ 4,000 for a dollar. Similar announcements were made by the authorities at the end of May but have had no effect.
The Lebanese pound has been trading since Thursday at a historic rate of 5,000 pounds for a dollar, according to money changers. Officially, the Lebanese pound has been indexed on the greenback since 1997 at a fixed rate of £ 1,507 for a dollar.
“It’s impossible for the dollar or any other currency to jump to this point in a few hours,” said MichelAoun, quoting a “plot”.
A political battle behind the scenes
In a Lebanon that is used to tensions between parties, observers wonder about the political game behind the scenes.
Riad Salamé is engaged in a new showdown with the government and, according to experts, the powerful armed Shiite movement Hezbollah, which dominates politics, is trying to remove it. “Riad Salamé, Game Over,” headlines the daily Al-Akhbar, near Hezbollah.
In addition, adherents of the Shiite movement, usually hostile to the protest, joined the night templates. “Hezbollah is trying to replace the governor,” said state scientist Imad Salamey, but cited the presence of other parties, including civil society, who “are demonstrating to bring down the government.”
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The governor is criticized by the fiscal protesters who favored the state’s excessive indebtedness with the profits, they say, politicians and banks.
The banks, they, provoked the public’s watch after introducing draconian restrictions on withdrawals in dollars or transfers abroad in light of the lack of green banknotes.
Lebanon’s unemployment rate currently affects more than 35% of the working population, and more than 45% of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the Treasury Department. The authorities negotiate with the International Monetary Fund to release financial aid, conditional on the adoption of reforms that have long been ignored by the authorities.